Letting Go….for Life

I have always had a hard time letting go and saying goodbye. I have a distinct memory of an internal conversation that took place when all of I was ten years old. In fact, now I think on it, I have the same heavy sadness now that I felt, perhaps for the first time, then at that age. Perhaps my young mind had glimpsed the fleeting face of time, but I felt a strong sense of the brevity of life, the speed of it, that the changes come rolling and the sea never stops moving. “Wow, life goes by so fast…”

I believe that I truly did, for one instant, have within my mental grasp the scope of life in all its meaning, and it struck me…hard. I knew I had to let go of my blessed childhood, too hard a thing to imagine. I feel the same sting now as I try to let go again, this time to my child’s infancy. Trying to maintain my appreciation of the present moment, I wrote a haiku, or two:

time passes quickly

her sweet, smiling, baby face

in my mind the same


the pain surprising

oh, bittersweet nostalgia

Now presents a gift.

The fact that I wrote this in the dark of the middle of the night tells me that this is about more than what it seems. As I search my mind and heart, what do I find?

I have realized that this is more about motherhood than infancy, more about me changing than my daughter changing. I wonder if these baby celebrations are a remnant of or rising out of a marking of motherhood, as well as marking the life of the child. Maybe traditionally, in these first rites of passage of birth and life affirmed, ceremonies and rituals would have recognized the mother and her rites. I am thinking that maybe I myself could use a moment now, to honor (belatedly) this passing through into a new phase of my life.

In this modern age, where we lack rites and rituals to help the human mind conceive of what is happening to the body, one must make a point of marking meaningful moments. My pregnancy and birth are past, my first year of motherhood a series of memories. I feel now the pull in different directions that life is taking the little nest of homebirth families that started the journey together. Who knows where life will take each of us around this next, big bend? With all these changes coming up for my community, my Living Family, I want to create a moment and a ritual to honor the passage we have all made together. A moment like that will help me let go of what has been and embrace what is. Now that the last little person is turning one, it feels the time to do this is fast approaching.

Anyone have any thoughts or ideas on how to celebrate, acknowledge and honor the transition that a person makes when moving from adulthood to parenthood? What has been meaningful to you as a mother or father? What changes or symbols should be considered? What might be said of this rite of passage?

Birth of a Family

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Madhavi Gupta on January 14, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    The preparations around my little one’s birthday are helping alot. I do not know what the adulthood to motherhood passage should be. We had a baby shower but didn’t do anything “special” except talk about having a baby and that helped alot. I also really, really enjoyed the week with my husband, prior to the birth where he and I just spent time together with no other distractions. It was one of the happiest times of my life. I cherish that week so much. There will never be another like it.


  2. Posted by Lata Murti on January 14, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    This is a beautiful post, Sheila. Kudos to you for taking the time to mark and reflect upon this transition, which too many of us (myself included) just let happen “to” us rather than “through” and “with” us. (Does that make sense?)….I am not a part of your original community of homebirthing, with children now all around the same age, but I tend to like to mark transitions/big spiritual changes by creating or making something that represents that transition or change. Now may be the time to make a cast or mold of Uma’s hands and/or feet. (They sell kits for that at stores). Or just to make hand and footprints on paper, with paint or ink. You could have yours and your husband’s next to Uma’s and frame it all. Then there’s always bronzing baby shoes, if that’s your thing. : ) As you may know, I like to bead, so maybe you could make yourself a bracelet or necklace that somehow symbolizes the transition you are experiencing. Charms and letter/number beads help, for they allow you to concretely symbolize or spell out an important object, name, or date. (To help us heal from my miscarriage, I made bracelets for me and Dave that spelled out the numbers that seemed to come up again and again in relation to the baby we lost. And we wore the bracelets until I was well into my pregnancy with Ivy and we felt healed and ready to let go. People often asked us about the bracelets when we were wearing them, and I know several thought we were crazy for it; but I think it’s one of the best things we did in our grieving. We now have the bracelets hanging on the doorknob of the little “home altar” I have in our living room). It seems that in your own way you are grieving the passage of a time that will never return, so perhaps symbolizing it in a similar way will help. You could also make a mobile from cards and other small mementos that you received while pregnant or during Uma’s first year, or words of inspiration. Dave and I made Ivy’s crib mobile from all the cards we received at her shower and right after she was born. We followed the instructions in the LITTLE BIG BOOK OF PREGNANCY, which is my favorite pregnancy book ever. (There’s also the LITTLE BIG BOOK FOR MOMS and LITTLE BIG BOOK FOR DADS, among others; and I think they all have great craft ideas for marking important occasions in your life). Or maybe you just want to make a mobile for yourself, with items that represent your transition from adulthood to parenthood. Anyway, I’ve bombarded you with enough ideas for now. : ) I’ll end by saying that the simple act of lighting a candle, meditating on the flame, and blowing it out whenever you’re ready can mean so much in terms of letting go, as can journaling, in your own journal or in Uma’s baby book. I look forward to reading about how you decide to mark this significant transition for yourself, if you feel comfortable sharing. : )


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